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Title: Staging Repentance: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Framing of Mediated Confessions During the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Xi’s First Five-year Term
Authors: Liu, Yuanyuan
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Since Xi Jinping became the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, he has tightened ideological control on many fronts. Many refer to Xi as the ‘new Mao’ and some even claim that he creates a sense of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This thesis investigates to what extent the official Chinese media has contributed to the formation of such sentiment through the under-studied area of mediated confessions. I argue that the latest resurgence of mediated confessions is an indication of regression towards Maoist social control. Through Fairclough’s three-dimensional critical discourse analysis, I analyse confession-related news from the People’s Daily from 1966 to 1976, alongside three news clips (2014-2016) and an Anti-corruption Campaign documentary (2016) broadcast on China Central Television. The analysis reveals that through selectively and repeatedly appealing to traditional cultural values and adapting to the political agenda of particular Party leaders, the official media framing of both periods makes the individual, not the CCP, responsible for the pressing social issues. Xi not only revives the practice of Mao’s self-criticism model, but also revamps the framing, which invokes the memory of the Cultural Revolution. The framing is often obsessed with individual leadership, linking Xi directly to Mao through certain historiography, and reinforces the distinction between the powerful CCP and the ordinary people while paying lip-service to their potential inter-dependence. The thesis contributes to understanding the revamped Party disciplinary technique. For those who know the cruel nature of mediated confessions, the practice sends a clear message of intimidation to those who are ready to publicly disagree with the CCP. For those who are oblivious to it, mediated confessions blend into ordinary crime news, which has been part of the CCP’s effort to build a socialist society of ‘rule of law with Chinese characteristics’.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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